Hidden charges push up average 'budget' air fare by one third
FLIGHTS from low-cost airlines are costing travellers on average a third more than the advertised ticket price, according to new research.
High charges for checking in bags, using credit and debit cards and even reserving seats are pushing up the cost of so-called budget flights.
The Scotsman's own research found that a family of four making a return flight from Glasgow to Alicante in Spain with Ryanair would pay 248 more than the advertised cost of the tickets if they took two suitcases and a golf bag, and paid with a credit card.
The research from price comparison website Kelkoo found that while some extra charges from low-cost airlines could be avoided, others are essentials.
No frills Jet2 also adds on charges for online check-in, seat reservations, a fuel supplement and a booking fee.
Kelkoo carried out a full European Flight Index comparing 5,000 fares from 20 airlines at 192 European airports.
An average 38 per cent of the price paid for a budget airline return ticket is in extras when booking from the UK, but this rises to up to 44 per cent for some flight times and destinations.
Checking in sports equipment or a musical instrument can set you back 40 per journey on some airlines and if you forget to take a printout of your boarding pass, Ryanair will charge 40 to do it for you at the airport.
Paying by credit card is a major expense - Easyjet adds 10.45 to the price of a ticket, explaining this as a 5.50 booking fee plus a charge of 2.5 per cent for paying with a credit card.
Ryanair charges 6 per person per journey for paying with either a credit or debit card - the only way to avoid this is to use a MasterCard prepaid debit card. It means a family of four pays an extra 48 for a return trip.
The consumer organisation Which? has launched a "super complaint" to the Office of Fair Trading against excessive credit or debit card payments.
It points out that it costs retailers just 20p to take a debit card payment and no more than 2 per cent for a credit card transaction.
The Civil Aviation Authority has also been urging airlines to advertise the real ticket price.
Iain Osborne, its group director of regulatory policy, said: "Consumers should be presented with clear information about the price of their flight throughout the booking process, so they can make fair comparisons between different airlines.
"Most airlines have changed their websites and adverts to include all unavoidable charges, and Ryanair and Jet2.com are committed to doing so by the summer."
The research found hidden costs make up 4 per cent of the price on major carriers, but despite this, budget flights are on average 33 per cent cheaper.
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